Title: Pity the Children

Author: xiaou-xijiang

Warnings: violence against children, mentions of rape, slavery, language

Summary: The sale of children is a booming business within the darkest corners of the galaxy. How will Kirk cope when the victim is one of his own? deaged!Spock, pre-K/S. Response to a prompt on lj.

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are not mine.

Part Five: Bang

Sulu felt like his skin was crawling. Sixteen hours filtering back and forth between the Auction House and the stench of depravity and sickness was starting to sink into his pores. He nodded back to his team, all looking just as weary as he. Can't take much more of this, he thought, straightening his shoulders and pressing the pass code into the keypad.

The last room to be searched: the Auctioneer's personal quarters, the devil's playground. Sulu kept his phaser at ready, cautiously stepping forward. His team easily and silently flanked him, two covering his side, and one at his back.

The room was terrifyingly normal. There were several blue orbs floating high on the ceiling, pulsing gently and giving the room a calming blue tint. It was surprisingly immaculate, no dust and no clutter. Lt. Kelsey whistled as the closet slid open.

Suit jackets, vests, and pants lined the compartment; impeccably shined shoes lined the floor.

"Jeez," she whispered incredulously as she ran her scanner along the edges of the walls. Ensign Carys slid into the bathroom, tight faced and tense. Sulu stepped deeper into the sleeping quarters. Tasteful art hung on the walls, from a variety of planets in the quadrant.

Sulu's lip curled instinctively at the sight of the bed. It was a wide double, with a soft blue coverlet stacked with pillows and cushions. It looked comfortable, inviting. He scanned it. Clean.

The sick fuck knows how to clean up after himself. Sulu refused to think of what "guests" the bed had welcomed. He kept the scanner running as he examined the bookcase. He had classics in his collection, actual printed classics: Milton, Melville, Dante, Twain, Ovid, Plato. Sulu couldn't help but feel a prickle of surprise. He opened a copy of Paradise Lost, and flipped through it. The smell of old paper and ink rose from the pages. The binding was well worn, probably one of his favorite reads. The man was obviously educated, smart, and meticulous…

"Who knew he was capable of doing something like this? And why?" Sulu wondered aloud placing the book back on the shelf. He scanned each book with his scanner, nothing out of the ordinary.

"Lt. Sulu!" Kelsey called. Sulu armed his phaser and moved swiftly back to the living area. Ensign Carys and Tillman were already there, flanking Kelsey's sides as she worked furiously at a keypad hidden behind the Auctioneer's clothes. She threw him a triumphant smile over her shoulder. "Bastard probably thought he was clever hiding it in here. He's got a triple encoded pass-lock on it connected directly to his genetic make up."

Sulu groaned. "How long?"

She looked offended. "What do you take me for?" Kelsey pulled out a sonic disrupter, small enough to fit easily in the palm of her hand. "Give me ten minutes."

Sulu smiled at her back impressed. He turned his attention to the two ensigns. "Anything?"

The Lieutenant's communicator interrupted Carys; it beeped urgently for him to answer. Sulu signaled for him to wait, and flipped it open.

"Sulu here."

"Lt. Ramand. Important information from the Captain. Permission to beam down?"

"All clear for you, Lieutenant." Sulu closed his communicator at the familiar sound of matter energizing to the far side of the room.

Ramand gave Sulu a quick salute, looking faintly green. He never could get used to that thing…

"Captain wants to expand the search to include any drugs or suspicious pharmaceuticals. Everything needs to be bagged and transported aboard ASAP to Medical."

Sulu nodded to the ensigns at Kelsey's side. "You two, meet Group B and C, they're still investigating the basement. We'll meet at the rendezvous point in an hour." He pointed to them both. "Find anything contact me, got it?"

They nodded, leaving quickly. Ramand stood before him, back rigid. He looked mildly disgusted and extremely tense, as if just by breathing the air in the Auctioneer's personal quarters he'd be infected. He noticed Sulu's quiet regard and answered his unspoken question. "The Captain told me to defer to you for orders, lieutenant."

"Damn, I'm good!" Kelsey crowed from the closet. Ramand's shoulder's tensed at the unexpected shout. Sulu jerked his thumb in her direction. "Could always use another pair of eyes."

Kelsey paid the men no mind as she mumbled to herself. "Just have to press this code in…" she slowly pressed three buttons. They lit dark blue before darkening. The lieutenant fit her palm to the scanner, heedless of Sulu drawing his phaser behind her.

The entire back wall of the closet slid apart. A door.

"Another room," Kelsey whispered stepping back and drawing her phaser. The doorway was pitch black, the emptiness twisted in on its self, beckoning them.

Sulu could only imagine what was in that room. He didn't want to sink deeper into the Auctioneer's depraved mind than he already had. He'll be having nightmares for months.

But this is what we have to do.

"On stun," he said, switching the settings of his phaser and hearing his team do the same.

Sulu stepped forward, Kelsey and Ramand pushed after him. "Stay close," he ordered The combined warmth of the officers at his back comforted him. He pressed on into the mysterious room.

Darkness, he was blind. His foot met air.

"Back!" Kelsey caught him under his arms. "Stairs," he whispered. She was close enough for him to feel her nod against his shoulders. Ramand exhaled loudly at his elbow.

He stepped down carefully. His boot hit the stair. And the next one, and the next. Kelsey kept close to his back; Ramand took the rear. Sulu hit the landing and kept walking until he bumped into something sturdy. A desk?

"I think I found a switch!" Ramand called quietly seconds before light flooded the room.



Sulu leapt back away from the table as if burned, right into a startled Kelsey. Ramand stood frozen by the wall, hand still lifted to the sensors.

Kelsey's gasp tickled the hairs on the back of Sulu's neck.

"Oh, Jesus."

McCoy startled awake at a touch on his arm. Nurse Chapel pulled her hand back smoothly. "Doctor," she began, eyes flicking noticeably to the chronometer. McCoy planted his elbows on the desk and sank his chin into the cradle of his hands.

"That time, is it?" McCoy's voice was hoarse even to his own ears. He rubbed his eyes to cover his own wince.

Nurse Chapel's mouth twisted in concern. "Perhaps you should sit out this shift. You look—" Like hell. She was too kind to actually say it, but damn if she wasn't thinking it.

McCoy chuckled humorlessly. "I look like shit, Nurse, you can say it." Chapel looked a bit flustered, but she kept the weary smile on her face.

"And thank you for offering, but no." McCoy stretched, trying to work out the knots in his back. "I've got to pull my weight, just like everyone else." Sleeping in a chair has never been any fun, especially at his age. McCoy scowled at his cup of stone cold coffee. Damn, what a day.

He stood, accepting the PADD Chapel handed to him. "What have we got?"

"#39 is stabilized." John Doe 39, boarded unconscious and hemorrhaging from a contusion in his skull. McCoy had been in surgery with #32 at the time, trying to fight a rapidly spreading infection in a young girl without completely amputating her left leg. Jane Doe 32 was in critical condition by the end of his shift; he hadn't had the time to see to #39 at all.

"Jackson headed that one didn't he?" Chapel nodded. McCoy read from his PADD, trusting Chapel to steer him in the right direction.

"Swellings gone down, good. Did he wake?" Chapel put her hand under his elbow and moved him out of the way of an incoming officer. McCoy didn't look up from the PADD.

"Briefly," she answered. "The doctors couldn't understand him."

McCoy cursed. "We'll need some linguistic specialists down here to interview these kids."

Chapel didn't say anything as they reached the med bay. The 'bay was just as hectic as it had been at the end of his shift. Every bed was full, some squeezed together to accommodate the cots that were dragged in. Several low risk patients lay in guests quarters, isolated from the massive hysteria and desperation of the med bay.

Like Spock.

McCoy quickly shook that thought away, following Chapel to the offices. Children were crying, screaming. Nurses and surgeons were rushing in circles around one another.

Chapel shut the door, and the following silence was eerie. She pressed more records into his hands.

"As of two hours ago, we've boarded 317 passengers. Of those, 130 are still unidentified. All have been listed as sustaining some injury or illness during their imprisonment. 96 have been treated for life threatening injuries, 48 are still in critical condition." She winced. "We've had five deaths. Bodies unidentified."

McCoy dropped the PADD on the desk and ran a hand through his hair. "Put them in the cryogenics room. It'll be a while before I can perform any autopsies."

"Already done sir," Chapel answered. She paused before asking tentatively, "Sir?"


"Has there been any change in Mr. Spock's condition?"

McCoy finally turned his full attention on her, eyes knowing and sympathetic.

"I'm still waiting to hear back from the landing party with any findings. Until I get an inkling of whatever he was poisoned with, I can't do much."

At her crestfallen look, he felt obligated to add: "I'm going to examine him again after he's gotten some rest." Chapel nodded, eyes unfocused and thoughtful.

"Speaking of rest," he needled. "When was the last time you took a breather?"

Chapel looked startled. "Me?" She thought. "Two shifts, I suppose."

She saw the look on his face and rushed on. "But I haven't been tired at all sir. I…I can't stop now. If I do I'll start thinking, and this—" she gestured to the med-bay outside the door. "This scares me. It's just so..." she stopped, at a loss of words, making a helpless gesture with her hands.

McCoy nodded. "I understand. Its enough to drive you crazy." Unbidden, Joanna's face came to mind. His baby girl, all round faced, smiling, and gorgeous. Nausea churned in his gut and he pushed her memory safely away.

I can't think about her. Not here. Not now.

Chapel was still looking at him with that imploring look on her face. He steeled his resolve. "But you're head nurse, I need you at your best. I can't have you exhausted and falling asleep on your feet can I?"

Chapel looked worried, but she shook her head. Bones raised two fingers. "Two hours. Rest. Eat something. Drink water. Then you can get back to work."

She nodded and dropped the vid-chips back into their pile on his desk. McCoy settled into his chair, determined not to let the horrors beyond his office doors taint the memories of his daughter. The nurse made a snuffling noise at the door. "Doctor, if you hear…any news on his condition—"

McCoy shook his head. "You know that information is privileged, Nurse Chapel. But I'll be sure to let him know that you send your regards."

Chapel nodded and slipped out the door.

McCoy groaned as he stared down at the medical reports on his desk. Five dead. Countless critical. Spock's condition still undetermined. What a goddamn day.

It was half an hour later before McCoy finally pulled himself away from his desk, PADD and tricorder in each hand; ready to make a thorough and complete examination of Mr. Spock. Sulu may not have gotten back yet with any drugs for him to test, but he'd be damned if he didn't make himself useful.

Certainly Kirk might have calmed him down a little bit. McCoy paused at Spock's door long enough to push in the medical override to Spock's quarters. He stepped inside, only to stop dead at the sight of a phaser aimed for his forehead.

Well damn.

to be continued.

a/n - thanks to everyone who has reviewed, favorited, c2'd, or alerted this fic. And thanks always to anyone who reads. I hope you enjoyed this chapter!